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How to Prepare:
- Use a condom if you have penis in vagina intercourse 24 hours before your appointment.
- Schedule it so it’s NOT while you’re on your period.
- Do not use a douche 24 hours prior to your appointment. (Do not use a douche at all! Douches are counteractive to vaginal health. You have very good bacteria maintaining a “habitat” of sorts and keeping you healthy! You don’t want to flush them out.)
- Write down any concerns or questions to take along with you. Have the dates of your last period handy. (If in doubt or unknown then just estimate.)
- Don’t feel concerned about “how to shave” or trim your pubic hair. Remember, this person is a medical professional and they’ve seen it all. You do what you usually do. Shower. At most check your labia for excess smegma. But other than that, don’t fret over the appearance of your vulva or vagina.
Before the Exam:
- You will fill out a general medical chart. It will ask for your menarche as well as your contraceptive history. It’s okay if you’re not sure or if you have a “complicated” answer. Just fill it out as accurately as possible. The doctor will have this in hand when they meet you so you will be able to explain anything.
- You may have your blood pressure and heart/lungs checked (your vitals.) If you feel you may be pregnant or are pregnant they will want a urine test.
- You might be given a gown if your exam includes a breast examination. OR you will be given a paper sheet to cover yourself so you can undress from the waist down. (The doctor will give you a few minutes of privacy to do this. They usually knock before entering the room to alert you that they’re coming in.)
- Sometimes a gyno will give you a breast exam. It’s pretty boring. They press around your breast and armpit area while looking very medical and thoughtful. It’s all pretty anticlimactic and silly feeling.
- They will also talk about your chart/medical history and ask you a few questions about contraceptives, sexual history, reproductive history, and general health.
- For the actual internal exam and pap smear you will be asked to lay back on the medical chair and put your feet into “stirrups” which are just plastic stirrups (just like on a saddle) to rest your heels in. Your lap is kept covered. Sometimes a lamp is used for the doctor to see better. They will inspect your vulva (the outside area) first.
- Most doctors will verbally alert you to what they are doing before they do it. If you feel more comfy with them narrating everything happening then you should say so. They are there to serve you medically and most doctors want you feeling as comfortable as possible. (I, personally, always request that they talk about what they are going to do before and AS they do it.)
- Latex gloves will be used as well as a gel for lubrication and comfort.
- For the internal exam they will insert a finger into your vagina. They will generally sweep down your vulva from the vaginal opening before inserting their finger. Then they will insert their finger. They are checking your cervix. They will press down on your lower abdomen.
- For the pap smear they will use a speculum. It is inserted into the vagina and opened up to give a view of the vaginal walls and cervix.
- Then they will use a Q-Tip, small stick, or cervical brush (sometimes looks sorta like a soft, bushy mascara brush) to swab your vaginal walls and cervix and gather cells.
- You will discuss any concerns and/or questions.
- You will schedule your next exam. At the age of
1821 you should have an exam yearlyevery two years
- If you are sexually active (even with a single partner in a monogamous relationship) you should have a yearly exam.
- Do not hesitate to bring up worries or concerns to your doctor.
- Always ask every question you have, even if you feel silly. It’s VERY important you feel comfortable doing this with your medical provider.
- Don’t feel shy about asking questions. This is what they are there for.
Remember that if you don’t feel okay with your gynecologist then you should switch to another. MANY General Providers (regular doctors) will do pap smears and yearly exams. Take advantage of this if your usual doctor is someone you feel comfy and happy with.
NEVER let a gyno patronize you or make you feel like your needs or questions are “stupid” or silly or out of line.
NEVER feel like asking a doctor to verbally communicate what is going to happen as it happens is ridiculous. This is YOUR body. Always say if something hurts or feels weird.
A pap smear will feel uncomfortable, probably. If you feel pain though, you should SAY SO. Never hesitate to tell your doctor that something hurts or is concerning.
Do not ever feel like you cannot ask a doctor or clinician to stop.
If you feel confused or unsure then ASK QUESTIONS. Remember: Embarrassing situations are okay. Patronizing behavior is not.
You want your doctor and their office to be understanding, empathetic, and caring.
Planned Parenthood is a wonderful place to start for Well Woman visits and they have a beautiful video that outlines how you’ll be taken care of and treated there.
“NEVER feel like asking a doctor to verbally communicate what is going to happen as it happens is ridiculous. This is YOUR body. Always say if something hurts or feels weird.”
That goes for ALL DOCTOR’S VISITS, ALWAYS. If you’re in the ER; if you’re in Critical Care; if you’re at your annual physical; if you’re dealing with a gynecologist. NEVER let a doctor act like you don’t have a right to be treated like a human being.
(BTW followers, this is a VERY good guide about annuals. If you haven’t gone to a gynecologist for your first annual yet, you really should! Once you turn 18 you should go every year just to get checked up, even if you’re not sexually active. It can be nerve-wracking, so if you have any questions about choosing a gynecologist, feel free to talk to me!)
The age for yearly pap smears has been changed to 21, and now you only have to do it every 2 years. Now if you are sexually active or have issues with your genitals you can have a yearly check up but you don’t necessarily need a pap smear during your yearly check up.
This is a must-read. Thanks to the person that made this, and everyone else who contributed along the way. One thing I wanted to add that by law, you can request to have another person in the room with you (in addition to yourself and the person conducting the exam), and they have to oblige this request.. This might be helpful to know for survivors of sexual trauma! xx
I still haven’t gotten my first Pap smear because I’m nervous and not always good at being assertive with medical professionals (LET me tell you about physical therapy…). This helps!
Michigan Democratic Leader, Gretchen Whitmer. The board of medicine just approved a Right to Life of Michigan petition banning abortion insurance coverage. If approved by the Republican majority legislature (and not allowed to go to the voters), it would require patients to purchase an additional rider to cover abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.
Nearly half of the pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and about 40% of those are terminated. The cost of a first trimester abortion ranges anywhere from $300 to $950. Nearly 60% of women who experience a delay in accessing safe, legal abortion have cited the time it took to raise the money and make arrangements. Those delays increase the cost of abortion, as well as the risk of complications.
I hate to tell you this, but this is all how health insurance works.
Plus, we’re ALREADY doing this, collectively. The cost of what you pay to see a doctor and have certain tests or services provided are inflated to cover these costs because the majority of people who are accruing them cannot afford to pay even a fraction of their bill. This is ESPECIALLY true in hospitals and large medical centers.
Our money goes to pay for the uninsured (and insured) who can’t afford to pay their outlandish medical bills (and instead end up going bankrupt, as in nearly 80% of all bankruptcy cases caused by medical bills). This would just give those SAME people the option to see a doctor before they end up needing to be in the ICU for a two weeks because of a preventable or fixable issue that could have been taken care of weeks or months before. A two week ICU stay that practically nobody outside of a millionaire could afford which then gets absorbed by the hospital because the person couldn’t pay it and is then spread to everyone else in THEIR medical bills.
Plus, we ALREADY do this for people on Medicare and Medicaid and I don’t hear any baby boomers bemoaning how unfair it is for us young people to pay for THEM to have medical care and social security checks provided to them. This just takes it a step further and gives better insurance options to people who aren’t in their 60s.
The most ideal option will ALWAYS be a single-payer system and it WILL happen in this country at some point. The ACA is not healthcare reform, it is insurance reform. It does nothing to try and limit healthcare costs (at least not in a tangible way), it does nothing to try and fix the doctor shortage (increasing the funding for the number of medical school spots does nothing when you don’t also provide funding for more residency positions), it does nothing to actually IMPROVE healthcare; it simply increases the access people have to it. It prevents insurance companies from being dicks, basically.
So as this is likely the first government shutdown in the memory of most if not all of the people posting here on tumblr (I was 8 in 1995), it might be helpful to refresh our memories on what exactly is going to happen when the federal government doesn’t have a budget.
- 800,000 federal employees have to go home. There’s no money to pay them, and coming to work on a volunteer basis gets into some tricky legal areas. While in the past they have successfully lobbied for back pay, there’s no guarantee of it with a divided congress.
- Air-traffic controllers will remain on duty. ATCs are government employees, but they are members of the 2-million odd employees that are marked as “essential”. They likely will not receive paychecks, however, until the shutdown ends.
- Airport delays. While the FAA’s security screeners are essential employees, many of the people who work to support them logistically are not.
- Visa applications and fees will continue to be processed, and foreign embassies and consulates remain open. So if you’re waiting on a visa application, don’t worry, it’s still in the works - though again, it’ll almost certainly be a slower process. Homeland Security and green card operations are included here, though DHS’ e-verify program - the thing that checks on the immigration status of job applicants - will no longer operate.
- NASA will furlough most of its employees. Essential mission control operations and employees will continue, but the vast majority of NASA employees are going home - and I do mean home, because NASA’s on-site housing for employees is being shut down.
- The military stops receiving paychecks. While the million and a half members of the US Armed Services stay on duty, they won’t get paid until after the shutdown.
- The postal service continues as normal.
- The federal court system stops. According to The Guardian, the federal courts would operate as normal for about 10 days before they have to start sending people home.
- The NIH screeches to a halt. That includes accepting new patients for clinical research, as well as answering medical questions on their hotline.
- The CDC will stop its seasonal flu program. According to the Washington Post, it will also have “a significantly reduced capacity to respond to outbreak investigations.”
- HUD will no longer be able to provide local housing authorities with vouchers. So if you live in government-subsidized housing, your status is very much up in the air.
- Parks and museums will close. Yosemite, Alcatraz, Yellowstone, the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, the Statue of Liberty, and about 400 other locations will close - though interestingly, the Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon will remain open, because the state of Arizona is picking up the bill.
- The EPA will shut down. The only thing that stays open at the EPA during a government shutdown is its operations around Superfund sites.
- OSHA will shut down.
- Social Security will be partially defunded. Social Security, as an entitlement, will remain open enough to keep the checks going out, but will lose enough staff that they won’t be able to schedule new hearings.
- VA Benefits will be cut. VA hospitals remain open, but that’s about it - and if the shutdown lasts longer than a few weeks, the Department of Veterans Affairs has said that it might not have enough money to pay disability claims and pensions.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully it gives everyone a pretty good idea of what we’re going to be looking at over the next few days, weeks, or (god forbid) months.
Feel free to send me an ask with any questions you have, and I’ll answer them to the best of my ability.
This takes effect today, on October 1.
If you don’t have insurance, head on over and check out your options!
One of the many, many demands the GOP is making right now is a “conscience clause” that will allow both employers and insurers to deny their employees the right to birth control on a “moral basis.” Yes, they want to make it so your boss can decide whether or not you’re allowed to get birth control with your insurance. I mean, who wouldn’t want to confront their boss and have to justify why they need a basic medication? Isn’t the idea of discussing religious ideology with the person who controls whether you get a paycheck exciting?
This is why I would rather let the government shut down.
They never learn, do they?
Hi! I have a long shot question and I hope someone can help... my parents are undocumented my mom REALLY needs dental care. most of her teeth are rotting and she has not had proper dental care ever in her life :( She lives in Miami, FL. all of our money is going into trying to get their papers (I'm a citizen, 22 y/o) and helping my sister finish college. Do you have any resources/links/advice to help? Also, I'm sending this message to several users because I'm a little desperate...
i don’t have any resources or links but hopefully some of my followers can help!
Anon may find some resources in the Health Care section of Resources for Decision-Making and Low-Income Parenting!
We can’t do much about that but there’s a lot we can do to be advocates for ourselves. Here are a few tips:
- do your research on your doctors – use all the resources you can get your hands on, call insurance companies, talk to friends, check out their success/failure rates, see if they are board certified in their field, etc.
- ask for a second opinion – when given a diagnosis that may require a lot of intervention and treatment, it is best to start out with a second opinion. Sadly, some doctors have motives to operate on you or prescribe you certain things that you don’t really need.
- trust your instincts – did the doctor really listen to you? did they spend enough time with you? did they ask the right questions? Trust your gut! If something didn’t feel right or you simply don’t like the doctor/doctor’s office, find someone else.
- go to your apppointments with your questions written down – there’s a good chance you’re going to forget what you wanted to ask once the doctor arrives.
- take a friend or loved one with you – maybe you’re just forgetting to share a symptom or need help remembering what the doctor said.
- explore different specialists – doctors don’t know everything about everything.
- don’t ignore your symptoms/be honest – ignoring that heart flutter or dizzy feeling or burning sensation isn’t doing you any favors and by ignoring your symptoms, you might be making the situation worse. Make a list of all of your symptoms, even if they don’t seem to be connected, and share them with your doctor. Be honest!
If you don’t have many options for health care, there are lots of tips online for getting the most out of your doctor’s visit, like bringing a list of questions, exploring treatment options ahead of time so you can ask about them, and bringing any test results that may be relevant.
Some people are mistreated by health care professionals because of their race, weight, gender, sexuality, or abilities. If anyone has advice on dealing with those issues, either ahead of time or during the visit, I’d love to hear about it.
Anyone under 30 years old will be able to buy a catastrophic plan through the Marketplace. It’s mostly what it sounds like—coverage kicks in if you have a health catastrophe, only after you’ve paid a deductible of a few thousand dollars. The upside is that monthly premiums are lower, so this could be a good option for folks who are young and healthy and just want worst-case-scenario coverage.
Plus, these plans will have a big bonus thanks to the ACA’s emphasis on prevention: Preventive care (including birth control!) will be covered just the way it is in other types of plans. That means if you buy a plan with a high deductible, your plan will cover birth control and other preventive services without requiring you to meet your deductible or pay out-of-pocket."
From 3 reasons health insurance could rock your world, September 4, 2013.
Yep, you read right—if you purchase a “Catastrophic plan” through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you do not, we repeat, do not need to meet your (probably high) deductible before your insurance will cover your birth control. And there’s more…
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